Are you fascinated and intrigued by the Ayurvedic system of healing? I know I am. Ayurveda is a natural complement to a yoga practice and one of the most effective natural modalities of healing in the world. It’s also a deeply intelligent way of learning about ourselves and our place in the universe.
If you’re a healer at heart and into both yoga and spirituality, becoming a certified Ayurvedic physician might be the perfect career path for you. Let’s take a look at the three most highly rated Ayurveda schools in America.
The Ayurvedic Institute
Established in 1984 as a non-profit organization aimed at teaching traditional Ayurveda as practiced in India, The Ayurvedic Institute is one of the best known. It finds its home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is run by esteemed Ayurvedic physician, author and founder, Vasant Lad.
The Ayurvedic Institute is part of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association and boasts a staff of 50 well-trained individuals. It offers classes in herbal therapies, nutrition, yoga, Sanskrit, acupressure massage, panchakarma cleansing and Vedic astrology.
(For a quick rundown of what panchakarma is all about, try reading Panchakarma: How to Prepare for Ayurveda's Most Complete Cleansing and Detox System.)
This school is not only an institute, but also a health spa. It’s recognized as one of the absolute best outside of India. The school offers various degrees and certifications. After one year of study, you can become a certified Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant. After two years of study, you can become a certified Ayurvedic Health Practitioner. After that, you can take your graduate clinical internship with Vasant Lad.
The Ayurvedic Institute also has distance learning programs, webinars, workshops, intensives and even training programs in India. These take place in conjunction with the Vasanta Institute of Ayurveda in Pune, India. If you want a well-rounded, top-notch Ayurvedic education in the southwest, this school’s for you.
California College of Ayurveda
This school is touted as the largest school of Ayurvedic medicine in the West. Located in Nevada City, California, this school began in 1995 under Dr. Marc Halpern, a revered Ayurvedic teacher and the recipient of countless awards from the U.S. and India. As the first school outside of India to get approval from the government to teach Ayurvedic medicine, it’s known as a pioneer of Ayurveda in North America.
If you’re interested in herbal medicine, this is an intriguing school as its programs actually teach students how to make the herbal medicines they’ll be prescribing to their patients. The school offers real-world internships, as well as post-graduate level work in India. In other words, there’s a lot of room for growth and success within your chosen Ayurvedic track.
Programs at the school include: Ayurvedic Health Counselor, Ayurvedic Practitioner, Ayurvedic Doctor, various programs with Dr. Marc Halpern, and a master's degree in Ayurveda. What’s more, the school has a spa with panchakarma treatments, various spa packages and luxurious spa treatments. If you love California and you want to learn at one of the top Ayurvedic schools in the nation, the California College of Ayurveda is definitely the one for you.
Kerala Ayurveda Academy
The Kerala Ayurveda Academy has locations in Milpitas, California and Seattle, Washington. It was founded by renowned Ayurvedic expert, Ayurveda Acharya, and offers a wide array of certifications and programs. These include certifications as an Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor and as an Ayurvedic Wellness Practitioner. There are also short-term programs in various Ayurvedic modalities, in-depth clinical training programs, which include internships in India and mentorship programs, as well as apprenticeship programs.
The cool thing about this school is that it has programs in Kerala, India, which is a beautiful part of the country and a center for Ayurvedic studies. Enrolling in this school would make it very easy to connect with teachers and doctors in Kerala, if that interests you. If you’re not sure whether or not to commit to this particular school, take part in one of their free webinars, which give an overview of both their Ayurvedic Counselor and Ayurvedic Wellness Practitioner programs.
Ayurveda for the Future of Western Health Care
As you can see, Ayurveda is firmly establishing itself in the West as the health care system continues to evolve. As people become more holistically minded, the need for Ayurvedic practitioners will grow, and such a career promises to be both rewarding and continually intriguing as there’s plenty to learn.
Any one of these three schools will give you a solid foundation in Ayurveda. And if you don’t want to go to India to get your degree, you’ll want to look deeper at the curriculum of each of these schools to determine which is best for you.
(And if you're planning to double-major as a yoga instructor as well, here's What to Expect From a Reputable Yoga Teacher Training.)